Memento’s Artscope Kicks In Sales on Fest Winner ‘Court’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Lauded for its power, Tamhane debut sweeps 10 kudos since world premiere at Venice


A Memento Films Intl.’s Artscope label pick-up for world sales, Chaitanya Tamhane’s “Court” has begun to clinch initial sales, rolling off a Venice Lion of the Future Award and a Venice Horizons Award for best film, plus major kudos at near every fest it has played at since.

In first sales, Artscope, the art film sales label of Paris-based producer-distributor-sales agent Memento Films, has closed Hong Kong (Bill Kong’s Edko Films), Canada (Films We Like), Middle East (Moving Turtle) and Greece (One From the Heart).

In India, helmer Chaitanya and Zoo Films producer Vivek Gomber’s have been approached by some good distributors for an India release, rolling off buzz in India on “Court,” especially after its Mumbai screenings, said Sata Cissokho, Artscope’s new head.

“For now, they have some ideas about marketing and distributing the film so as to reach the widest possible audience in India,” Cissokho added.

“Court’s” 10 awards in the three months following its world premiere at Venice, most for best film or best first feature, include in mid-October a SIYAD Critics’ Best Film Award at Turkey’s Antalya Golden Orange FF and best film, director and ensemble cast plaudits at India’s Mumbai Festival.

In November, “Court” won a Fipresci Award at Austria Viennale and New Talent Award at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival, plus a Special Jury Mention at Ukraine’s Kiev Molodist Festival. Its latest nod came mid-November with a Victor Turov Memorial Award for Best Film at the Minsk Festival’s Youth on the March Feature Films Competition.

““The moment we saw the film we knew that ‘Court’ would do well in festivals, but this success is beyond our predictions. Having attended a public screening, it’s also very rewarding to see that it speaks to audiences and not just to programmers. The bet we took paid off,” said Sata Cissokho, Artscope’s new head. “Court” is Cissokho’s first Artscope acquisition.

“Court” has now been invited to festivals through July 2015.

Mostly casting non-pros, Tamhane’s Mumbai-set feature debut kicks in with the body of a sewage worker being found in a manhole. A social activist folksinger is accused of performing an inflammatory song that might have pushed the man to suicide and is put on trial. But as the trial unfolds, it is the large injustices of India’s legal judicial system which are exposed, rather the bard’s guilt.”

“Managing to be both extremely rational and extremely humane, the film works so well thanks to an intelligent, superbly understated script and a feel for naturalism that extends beyond mere performance. Possibly too cerebral for the ‘Lunchbox’ crowd, ‘Court’ could use fest exposure to propel itself onto specialty screens,” Jay Weissberg wrote in his Variety review.